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Over the last few years, content management systems have begun to evolve drastically. Initially, these products were perceived as being a simple means to putting a presence on the web, perhaps for the purpose of selling a product or service. Now, however, the requirements of what I would define as a true content management system have changed rather drastically.
Take a look at the recent release of Liferay 6EE for instance.. in my mind, it somewhat speaks to what true content management is, which is why I've been so pleased with its release and the advancements that it brings.
In my opinion, the ideal CMS now blends a mixture of social aspects, workflow, and document management with a sleek presentation layer. No longer are they just systems that exist to stick a page up on the web… they are now platforms that are designed to provide a complete online presence. True, you may not use all of the features that these systems provide, but being given the opportunity to use them if you choose is what matters.
Often, when doing interviews, I ask the question “How do you define a CMS?” and there almost always seems to be a large number of differing opinions (see some of them here). This, I think, is due to confusion amongst both vendors and users as to how each side uses these products. Only recently have both sides begun to realize the need to engage one another using social media in order for both sides to benefit.
What is a CMS really? Is it a portal? Is it a presentation layer? No. It's all of this and more.
We can only hope that as vendors like Liferay and others start to redefine their products, so to do can we redefine the term and come to a mutual agreement as to what it really means.
Terminology aside, the CMS market is growing and expanding at a rate that promotes stronger competition, higher expectations and (hopefully) lowering costs for the end user. With the culmination of portals, wikis, blogs, forums and social aspects being combined into these products, we can soon expect a shift in the way websites are used and navigated. More and more companies and organizations are moving away from the “sales type” website and into the “engage the customer” type whereby the site is defined by the users requirements and interactions as opposed to the companies need to sell products or services.
So what does a visitor to your website really want? According to what we are seeing of late, they want easy access to information about your product or service, a fast and effective means of communicating with other users of your products and a way to reach out to you as well if they so desire. They want to be able to spread the word if they are happy or let you know if they are not and they want to do this quickly and efficiently without whittling away their time trying to find out how to do so.
With the advancement in social media and the way we interact with the web, we can most certainly expect more unique and interesting approaches from those companies that are fit to react in a timely manner to these changing needs.
What do you see as the next evolution?